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Former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman won't face criminal charges

Schneiderman, who resigned hours after it was reported that he had sexually abused four women, won't be criminally charged, prosecutors said.
Image: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks at a news conference with other U.S. State Attorney's General to announce a state-based effort to combat climate change in the Manhattan borough of New York City
Eric Schneiderman, then New York attorney general, in 2016.Mike Segar / Reuters

Former New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — who resigned in disgrace after being accused of physically abusing four women — will not be criminally charged, a state prosecutor announced Thursday.

A Democrat who'd made a name for himself as a champion of women's rights, Schneiderman stepped down in May just hours after a report in The New Yorker magazine detailed that he had struck or choked women he knew.

He said then that "while these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office's work at this critical time."

The allegations were investigated by Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, who was appointed special prosecutor by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"I believe the women who shared their experiences with our investigation team," Singas said in a statement obtained by WNBC-TV. "However, legal impediments, including statutes of limitations, preclude criminal prosecution."

One of Schneiderman's victims, Michelle Manning Barish, dated him in 2013 and 2014, and told the New Yorker that he would slap and choke her without her consent. He admitted to the magazine in a statement that "in the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual activity," but maintained, "I have not assaulted anyone."

Announcing his resignation, Schneiderman said "I strongly contest" the allegations.

Barish tweeted Thursday morning after the district attorney's announcement that she wanted Schneiderman's campaign contributions donated to initiatives helping women in New York. "I need an admission of wrongdoing. An apology," she wrote.

She soon got some of what she wanted.

In a statement obtained by NBC News, Schneiderman said: “I recognize that District Attorney Singas’ decision not to prosecute does not mean I have done nothing wrong. I accept full responsibility for my conduct in my relationships with my accusers, and for the impact it had on them. After spending time in a rehab facility, I am committed to a lifelong path of recovery and making amends to those I have harmed. I apologize for any and all pain that I have caused, and I apologize to the people of the State of New York for disappointing them after they put their trust in me.”

Barish tweeted after seeing the statement that "I feel completely vindicated by Eric Schneiderman’s admission that he engaged in the abuse to which he subjected me and the other women."

She thanked Singas for her work, and as for Schneiderman, she said, "I wish him well in the recovery process."

Schneiderman had been a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement, and filed suit against producer Harvey Weinstein and his movie company earlier this year for failing to protect their employees from "pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation and discrimination."